The Vedas (the four most sacred books of Hindu tradition, considered as the essence of Knowledge, has been «revealed» to the seven Rishis) has been the first knowledge to be written in the world. The first one - Rig-veda - would have been memorized in written sanskrit between 1800 to 1500 BCJC, some say that it is from 3000 BC, and some others say : since ever... 

There are 4 Vedas :

the first three were the principal original division

  • Atharva-Veda (magical formulas) came after, but was considered as part of the Vedas

The Vedas contain hymns, prayers, magic formulas, rituals, incantations, etc. but also data of more scientific order, they are the base which allowed old India to be so powerful in mathematics, astronomy, medicine ...

Among these four Vedas, it is Atharva who is considered to be the mother of Ayurveda. Similarly, Ayurveda is considered to be the Upaveda of the Atharva (secondary veda). The Atharva Veda refers to different medicinal plants, the places where they are found, their therapeutic virtues but also the way in which they are made remedies. In addition, we find in this veda, chapters concerning art, literature, martial arts, rules of life, music ...


These writings indicate that Ayurveda is the first form of medical science of humanity, more than 5000 years ago (for the veracity of dates, a bit of poetry is not superfluous ...).

Our Western medicines have much in common with Ayurveda.

Hippocrates himself, considered the pioneer of Western medicine, studied the theory of Ayurveda and developed thanks to it his own system.

Many terms used in our modern medicine are derived from Ayurvedic nomenclature, such as the heart that comes from Sanskrit Hrit, the brain that comes from Siro Brahma, the cerebellum that comes from Siro Veloma. It is thus admitted that specialties such as anatomy, pharmacy and surgery would come from Iran, Mesopotamia and Assyria, but in fact these countries have themselves learned this in India.

At the time when Alexander the Great invaded India, the cities of Thakshasila, Kasi Ujjayani and Vidarbha were well known for their schools. Indeed, these cities already had highly developed hospitals with medical schools, welcoming many foreign students, including from Greece. Alexander took with him many doctors, who studied in India antidotes against snake bites and a multitude of other remedies. On the other hand, a number of Indian doctors were enlisted in his army.

It is between the sixth century BC and the fourth century AD that Ayurveda knows its golden age, epochs experienced by many scholars and authors of medical works. Not only man but also animals, such as elephants and horses, and also plants, were treated by the different branches of Ayurveda.

Palakapya Samhitha and Shalihothra Samhitha, for example, explain how best to care for elephants and horses.

Charaka, Susrutha and Vagbhata are some of the most famous writers on Ayurveda. They are also called the Triad of the Ancients.

Charaka is considered the creator of general medicine and Susrutha as the father of surgery and as initiator of cosmetic surgery. Vagbhata wrote the Ashtanga Samgraha, where he explains the importance of these two areas and lists different theories to enrich his text with the eight specialties of Ayurveda. These three writers lived at different times.

1. Susrutha

Susrutha is believed to have lived in Benares, India between 700 and 350 BC. In his book, Susrutha-Samitha, he deals with all the aspects of a treatment, including very precise information on the medicinal plants and the preparations that go into the composition of the drugs. Susrutha is also known for her high skills in surgery and anatomy. He gave a detailed description of the dissection of the human body, as well as how to preserve the body. In this treatise, Susrutha explains in detail the specificity of surgical tools. Currently, modern surgery still follows the procedures described by Susrutha.

2. Charaka

This promoter of modern medicine lived in the 1st century AD and studied general medicine at the Athereya Institute. He is the author of the classic Ayurveda Charaka Samhitha, rewriting the Agnivesa Tantra, but which also includes observations specific to Charaka. The latter is well known for his contributions to medicine but also for his profound philosophy.

3. Vagbhata

Vagbhata would have lived in the 4th century AD. He is a disciple of Chakyamuni Buddha and has written two books, Ashtanga Samgraha and Ashtange Hridaya. Vagbhata traveled all over India and it was in Kerala, shortly before his death, that he wrote the Ashtanga Hridaya. There are eight families known as Ashatavaidyas, heirs to this knowledge, who strove to develop Ayurveda in Kerala. There have, of course, been many other authors who have written Ayurveda books, articles or commentaries on the Acharyas just quoted. Most of them rely on their own practical experiences. Here are a few: Madhavakara, better known by the nickname Madhavanidana, lived in the 7th century AD and wrote Rugvinichaya, focused on medical diagnosis. The author describes the causes, symptoms and prognosis of diseases. This book is considered a reference in Nidana (diagnosis);


This 13th century AD scholar is the author of Sarngadhara Samhitha, an authentic text on pharmacology. It deals with the methods of preparation, the dosage of the drugs but also Nadi Pariksha, that is to say the diagnosis of the disease by measuring the pulse of the patients. This book also discusses the use of opium and the description of the respiratory system.


He wrote a dictionary called Bhavaprakasha, which lists the virtues and effects of medicinal plants. Thus in this book we find remedies against syphilis, which has appeared in India with Portuguese merchants. At the time of the Buddha, surgery is much criticized because it goes against the principle of non-violence (ahimsa). Thus, at this time, Ayurveda is growing more thanks to the discovery of drugs based on active minerals.

The many invasions of India before independence eventually defeated Ayurveda's dominant position in surgery. Indeed, at that time, modern medicine appeared in India and many hospitals and universities were built there to teach and practice it, to the detriment of Ayurveda.

But this science or knowledge of life survives despite everything, thanks to its inner strength and certain results that alopathic medicine can not solve. According to ancient writings, Ayurveda is destined to endure through the ages and centuries.

Today, when universal communication has become easier, thanks to the internet and telecoms, there is no doubt that Ayurveda will take a special place in our methods of preventing the disease as well as alternative healing, all for the benefit of a magnified harmony between man and his environment.